Archive - February 2009

1
Remember to Use Up Your 2008 Healthcare Flexible Spending Account Funds
2
Massachusetts Law Requires Gender-Neutral Annuities
3
Credit Tightening Means You’ll Need To Plan Before Borrowing
4
Do You Know How Much Your Advisor Charges You?
5
Key Tax Changes in the Final Version of the Stimulus Bill

Remember to Use Up Your 2008 Healthcare Flexible Spending Account Funds

Many employers offer Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) that can be used to pay for healthcare expenses not covered by health insurance. If you participate in one, the money that you have withheld in the account has use-it-or-lose-it status. In some plans, the deadline for spending funds contributed in 2008 was 12-31-08, but many plans have taken advantage of an IRS provision that allows prior-year FSA funds to be used up to 2.5 months after yearend. The deadline this year is March 16th (the 15th is a Sunday). FSA funds can be used to pay for co-payments, deductibles, or other expenses …

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Massachusetts Law Requires Gender-Neutral Annuities

With little fanfare, S.B No. 2729 (the “Act Relative To Equitable Coverage For Annuity Policies”) went into effect on January 1, 2009. The law requires that all annuities sold to Massachusetts residents be gender-neutral in all aspects, including premiums and benefits.

An annuity can take a variety of forms, but it’s basically an insurance contract.  In a fixed annuity, an insurer agrees to make a regular stream of payments to an annuitant in return for the payment of an initial sum of money (the premium).  The period over which fixed annuity payments are made could be

a specific number of

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Credit Tightening Means You’ll Need To Plan Before Borrowing

Now that lending money with wild abandon has ceased to be fashionable, consumers will have to work harder to get the best possible loan terms. That means that credit scores are even more important than they used to be. Here are a few quick tips on keeping your credit score as high as possible.

Understand that your score can’t be fixed overnight
These days, the best loan terms are given to consumers with FICO credit scores of about 760 or better; this is up about 20 points from a year ago, when credit was flowing freely.  Working to improve your …

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Do You Know How Much Your Advisor Charges You?

Do You Know How Much your Advisor Charges You?

Photo by: Eleaf

If you’re like most people, you have no idea how much you pay for investment, insurance, or retirement advice. A lot of people mistakenly assume they receive free advice. Some advisors do not explain their fees and many consumers do not take the time to ask. People are usually shocked when I explain how much they’ve been paying in commissions or fees.

There are many different ways advisors are paid in the financial services industry. For the sake of this brief article, I will broadly categorize all of the fee structures into three categories. They are Commissions, …

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Key Tax Changes in the Final Version of the Stimulus Bill

The final version of the 1071-page American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is due to be signed by President Obama tomorrow. My summary of the bill’s key tax items two weeks ago was not far off the mark, but there are a number of nips and tucks in the final version.

“Making Work Pay” tax credit
The refundable credit in the amount of 6.2 percent of earned income finally settled in at a limit of $400 for single returns and $800 for joint returns in 2009 and 2010. The credit starts being phased out at adjusted gross incomes (AGI) …

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